Fri, 19 Dec 2003

Police secure Christmas, New Year

Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Jakarta Police officials said they planned to deploy around 12,200 personnel, or half of their full force of 23,000, to guard the capital during Christmas and New Year celebrations from Dec. 24 to Jan. 7 amid heightened concern of possible terrorist attacks.

City Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Prasetyo said on Thursday that the police would reinforce churches' private security guards to ensure trouble-free celebrations in what they are calling the Lilin Jaya 2003 operation.

"Large churches, which host massive congregations, will top our priority list for extra security," he said.

There are 647 churches all over Jakarta, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi.

In addition to churches, police will also beef up security in shopping centers, recreational and entertainment centers, hotels, and all places that will likely play host to large numbers of holidaymakers.

Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Makbul Padmanagara said on Wednesday that possible terror attacks would still be the main threats to security in the capital during the upcoming celebrations.

Police reiterated their warning that the two most wanted bomb experts, Dr. Azahari and Noordin M. Top, both Malaysian citizens who have taken refuge in this country, were still at large and might be preparing another devastating strike. Both suspects were believed to be key operatives in the bombing at the JW Marriott Hotel in South Jakarta, on Aug. 5.

Both Azahari and Noordin are believed to be senior commanders of regional terrorist network Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), which is reportedly responsible for the Bali bombings last year that claimed 202 lives, mostly foreigners. Police also believe, based on capture JI suspects, that the terror network was behind a spasm of Christmas bombings in 2000 at several churches around the country.

Prasetyo said military personnel, city public order officers and firefighters would also help guard the celebrations.

Meanwhile, at the same time the police also plan to crack down more against traffic violations, street crimes, smuggling and foreigners criminals.

"We will get serious with motorists who violate traffic regulations including those riding in open trucks and on the roofs of buses, especially during the New Year's eve festivities, because such activity can be quite risky," Prasetyo explained.

He also reiterated that police would "record any violations by political party supporters that might take advantage of the large crowds and start campaigning for next year's general elections. Any violators will be swiftly reported to the Elections Supervisory Body (Panwaslu)."

Standard measures for civilian security personnel to prevent bomb attacks:

1. Sterilize venues

2. Observe the venue's surroundings, including the lobby, waste containers, front and back yards and parking lots.

3. Check:

- incoming vehicles with portable metal detector if necessary

- incoming people (congregations, visitors and guests).

- luggage carried along, received packages.

4. Strictly monitor the situation in the venue and parking lots during the activity. Be alert for suspicious persons, unattended packages or bags.

5. If a container is suspected as a bomb, report the finding immediately to the police bomb squad, contact other security forces to back up (military personnel, police) and cordon off the area.

6. Orderly direct traffic inflow and outflow around the surrounding area.

Source: Jakarta Police